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Manipur gears up to deal with drought

By Sobhapati Samom

IMPHAL, July 18 � The Manipur government has prepared special arrangement to deal with the drought-like situation in the paddy fields located in the highlands. The step has been taken up after the State started to witness deficient rain in its agricultural land. State�s agriculture minister Md Abdul Nasir also made an assurance in the ongoing the State assembly on Thursday.

�Necessary arrangement has been made,� said Agriculture Minister Md Nasir while replying to a question by opposition MLA Th Shyamkumar of Trinamool Congress in the State assembly. �Short duration paddy varieties which can grow in the dry area have been distributed through the district agriculture officers.�

Above this the department has also started to distribute seeds of pulses for the highland paddy fields, the Minister added. The department is also planning to distribute the said pulses seeds through the district agriculture officers as per demands.

Responding to another question raised by MLA Shyamkumar on framing a market policy for farmers, agriculture minister clarified that the State is yet to introduce a market policy in the State as the Centre is yet to make a national policy on it.

All Manipur Progressive Farmers Association (AMPFA) which had been demanding the issue of providing irrigation water to the paddy fields of Manipur, said that it has become hard for farmers to practice agriculture as the State neither has a proper system to irrigate water to the paddy fields nor harvest rain water during rainy season.

In view of the development, the farmers are unable to start farming till date due to scarcity of water this year.Lack of adequate rainfall has delayed transplantation of paddy in Tamenglong and Senapati districts. Farmers of Noney, Marangching, Lukhambi and Awangkhul areas in the Zeliangrong community dominated hill district and Oklong, Purul, Maram, Paomata and Chilivai in Senapati district have urged the concerned authority to provide water pumping sets and other necessary equipment to facilitate irrigation of their field.

The farming community of the Senapati district, who depend for their livelihood on their annual harvest, wants government help in resolving the situation. Manipur had faced drought-like situation in 2009.

Only about two lakh hectares of land are arable out of the State�s total area of 22,327 sq km and the annual output of food crops from this area is only four lakh metric tonnes against the requirement of six lakh metric tonnes to feed the State�s 27 lakh population, according to AMPFA. The State produces only about 3,51,740 tonnes of rice against the requirement of 5,46,350 tonnes a year. As a result, the shortfall has to be imported from outside the State.

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